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Posted on: August 14, 2023

Bucks County Sheriff Warns Teens Against Risky iPhone App

Please be aware, the new Saturn iPhone app marketed to teens with the slogan “High School Runs on Saturn,” for sharing schedules and connecting with friends claims it is for teen use only and specifically targets high school students, ages 14 to 18. Saturn features social network opportunities combined with calendar viewing capabilities, without safeguards such as the typical privacy settings.

While Saturn proclaims it solves the problem of managing social and academic life in high school, its use potentially poses a serious risk to students’ security and physical safety.  Saturn invites students to scan a personal photo, and photo of their class schedule to allow Saturn to create a school calendar using basic optical character recognition intelligence.

Currently gaining in popularity, it is one of the top 15 iPhone apps found in the App Store.

Literally anyone can join the app, obtain full access to the social network, and view all users’ data.

Users are also assured the app adheres to law enforcement guidelines, asserting it is a “safe and secure online space for students.” However, identify verification is not required to set-up an account, access information or use the app.

While privacy and security are prime necessities for users of any app, or social network, there is no way to assure secondary students are the only users of Saturn. As parents who created false accounts to explore the app can attest, anyone can download Saturn and sign-up for an account by adding a phone number, providing a general location, and selecting a local high school. To setup and use the app account anyone can add a fake name, birthday, and graduating class. They can also opt out of providing a location and decline uploading their contacts, essentially creating an anonymous profile for the user.

The fact is Saturn makes several false claims; saying students are protected because they only allow students who verify their status to access the platform, only fellow classmates can view class schedules, and school email addresses are needed to confirm users are actual students at the school named. 

Harran explains any individual could easily exploit students with the data accessible through the Saturn app without linking the perpetrator to the harassment, or crime, committed.

In reality, within minutes, every user associated with a particular high school can access personal shareable Information, including student names, photos, class schedules, private messaging, and links to Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Venmo accounts. This data could be used in a variety of corrupt ways, on other social media platforms, to impersonate or cyberbully, track students, steal their identity, or scam them.

Saturn misleads students giving them the impression the app is a friendly place to share personal information and meet friends without clearly stating its lack of security measures, the inherent risks of use, and the probability of its misuse and abuse.

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